Jump to content


Alexander Grant


  • Please log in to reply
30 replies to this topic

#16 cargill

cargill

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 645 posts

Posted 04 October 2011 - 09:16 AM

I thought people might be interested in this example of how much Alain meant to Alexander Grant. I was in charge of the Dance Critics' Association conference when Alexander Grant came to speak--it was the year that ABT did their wonderful La Fille. Mr. Grant could not have been nicer--I was responsible for him, and managed not to make a complete fool of myself. Since he seemed so interested in everything, I did send him a copy of my review of La Fille in Ballet Review, where I talked about Alain. I had remembered his Alain, where, in the storm scene, he got a wonderful gleam in his eye looking at his umbrella. In the ABT production, the Widow Simone pointed out the umbrella to Alain, as if saying, you are such a dunderhead, you don't even know what an umbrella is. I said that I missed that little moment of Alain's triumph, but that, since Alexander Grant had set the ABT version, they must have it right. I got the nicest letter back (which I plan to have buried with me), and he said "I was delighted that you commented on Alain's moment when he says "look I am not so silly I am the only one with an umbrella"--it was a favourite moment of mine. Simone did not point it out to him in the original production, and I certainly did not teach her to do so in the present production, it is one of those times when artists take the idea on themselves." He was one of the greatest artists I have ever seen, and I still get shivers when I think of the way he mimed Bottom's dream. Mary

#17 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 04 October 2011 - 10:35 AM

Yes, it's Daphnis and Chloe, but unfortunately I think it's Michael Somes and Violetta Elvin rather than Grant and Fonteyn. (It's miscaptioned on the Getty site)

Ah. Thanks, Jane. Someone at the Times must have caught the error, because the on-line photo has now been changed to what apepars to be the real Fonteyn, cringing from the unwanted advances of Grant's Pirate Chief.

(I thought that first photo looked uncharacteristic of Grant's usual stage persona but did not question it. And I confess I did not look too closely at the partially obscured face of "Fonteyn." :blushing:)

Cargill, thanks for those reminiscences. I really love ....

I got the nicest letter back (which I plan to have buried with me), and he said "I was delighted that you commented on Alain's moment when he says "look I am not so silly I am the only one with an umbrella"--it was a favourite moment of mine. Simone did not point it out to him in the original production, and I certainly did not teach her to do so in the present production, it is one of those times when artists take the idea on themselves."

Just about everyone who has commented on contacts with Grant has talked about how downright nice he was. And many also state, as you do, that he was a great artist. I get the sense that these are deeply held convictions, not just conventional praise.

#18 Paul Parish

Paul Parish

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,925 posts

Posted 04 October 2011 - 09:48 PM


So musical, such clear action, such smart timing.
He reminds me of Harpo Marx

#19 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 05 October 2011 - 10:46 AM


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gK22_ZtJMPA
So musical, such clear action, such smart timing.
He reminds me of Harpo Marx

Yes! Thank you for giving a name to a quality that looked very familiar, but which I couldn't pin down. Based on what I've read, Grant seems to have been a natural stage performer. Still photos don't capture this well.

#20 leonid17

leonid17

    Platinum Circle

  • Foreign Correspondent
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,413 posts

Posted 08 October 2011 - 06:45 AM

I watched, enjoyed and admired Alexander Grant’s performances from 1961 to 1985.

Until the last seven or so years, I had often run into him at theatres and in the street. Mr Grant’s bright perky manner always brought an uplifting moment to what otherwise might have been a rather ordinary day.

Knowledgeable, opinionated and thus a lively personality. Alexander Grant was also a defender of tradition, but not entirely unbending when staging Ashton’s work for dancers who had not experienced the earlier Royal Ballet style.

As a performer I saw in Mr. Grant in at least twenty roles as diverse as Tirennio in “Ondine” to The Young Man in “Two Pigeons” with Lynn Seymour and the hilarious Tango in “Façade.” I remember him as very moving “Petrushka,” to another style of unsurpassed pathos, in the role of Alain in “La Fille mal Gardee.”

He was also the marvellously tortured Rake in DeValois “the Rakes Progress” and one can measure his sharply contrasted abilities when you consider with his sprightly Neapolitan dance often with Merle Park as they inimitably progressed at speed in Act III of “Swan Lake.”

Alexander Grant was never the same dancer one had seen in a previous role.

When he reprised the Tango from Façade in the 1984 Royal Gala tribute to Sir Frederick Ashton a tear came to my eye as the memories of my first seeing him in the role some twenty one years earlier, began to remind me of all those dancers who had filled the 1960’s with such dash, stylishness and emotion who had now, left the stage.

I saw Alexander Grant’s last performance as Herr Drosselmeyer in 1985 which for me seemed to be a Royal Ballet finale to the last days of the glorious 1960’s.

Alexander Grant was the quintessential Royal Ballet dancer who always entirely filled the roles he played.

I particularly enjoyed reading the Judith Cruickshank obituary of Alexander Grant at:-

http://www.guardian....alexander-grant

***STOP PRESS: ROYAL OPERA HOUSE ANNOUNCEMENT***

http://balletnews.co...ton-foundation/

#21 sandik

sandik

    Rubies Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,365 posts

Posted 08 October 2011 - 11:01 AM

Alexander Grant was never the same dancer one had seen in a previous role.



What a wonderful thing to say!

#22 dirac

dirac

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 24,892 posts

Posted 08 October 2011 - 11:13 AM

Hi, leonid. Good to hear from you.

This obit in The National Post by Michael Crabb discusses Grant's tenure directing the National Ballet of Canada in more detail -- some of the other obits barely mention it.

Despite initial skepticism from inside and out, Grant also commissioned one of his leading stars, Peter Schaufuss, whom he’d lured from George Balanchine’s New York City Ballet in 1977, to stage North America’s first production of the 19th-century Bournonville classic, Napoli. Its November 1981 premiere proved a triumph. National Ballet founding artistic director Celia Franca commented that she’d never seen the company dance better.

A constellation of rising talents such as Kevin Pugh, Kimberley Glasco, Kim Lightheart, Owen Montague, David Allan, Sabina Allemann, Jeremy Ransom and Raymond Smith emerged under Grant’s direction but the casting policy required to spread performance opportunities partly contributed to the internal tensions and public criticism that eventually scuttled Grant’s directorship.



#23 dirac

dirac

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 24,892 posts

Posted 08 October 2011 - 11:13 AM

Greetings, leonid. Good to hear from you.

This obit in The National Post by Michael Crabb discusses Grant's tenure directing the National Ballet of Canada in more detail -- some of the other obits barely mention it.

Despite initial skepticism from inside and out, Grant also commissioned one of his leading stars, Peter Schaufuss, whom he’d lured from George Balanchine’s New York City Ballet in 1977, to stage North America’s first production of the 19th-century Bournonville classic, Napoli. Its November 1981 premiere proved a triumph. National Ballet founding artistic director Celia Franca commented that she’d never seen the company dance better.

A constellation of rising talents such as Kevin Pugh, Kimberley Glasco, Kim Lightheart, Owen Montague, David Allan, Sabina Allemann, Jeremy Ransom and Raymond Smith emerged under Grant’s direction but the casting policy required to spread performance opportunities partly contributed to the internal tensions and public criticism that eventually scuttled Grant’s directorship.



#24 leonid17

leonid17

    Platinum Circle

  • Foreign Correspondent
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,413 posts

Posted 09 October 2011 - 12:38 AM

Greetings, leonid. Good to hear from you.

This obit in The National Post by Michael Crabb discusses Grant's tenure directing the National Ballet of Canada in more detail -- some of the other obits barely mention it.

Despite initial skepticism from inside and out, Grant also commissioned one of his leading stars, Peter Schaufuss, whom he’d lured from George Balanchine’s New York City Ballet in 1977, to stage North America’s first production of the 19th-century Bournonville classic, Napoli. Its November 1981 premiere proved a triumph. National Ballet founding artistic director Celia Franca commented that she’d never seen the company dance better.

A constellation of rising talents such as Kevin Pugh, Kimberley Glasco, Kim Lightheart, Owen Montague, David Allan, Sabina Allemann, Jeremy Ransom and Raymond Smith emerged under Grant’s direction but the casting policy required to spread performance opportunities partly contributed to the internal tensions and public criticism that eventually scuttled Grant’s directorship.


Thank you for the greeting.It does seem a while since I contributed anything and thank you for posting the above link.

In trying trying to evaluate Alexander Grant's Royal Ballet afterlife,I think he brought quality rather than quantity to the National Ballet of Canada and the boldness in getting “Napoli” and “Onegin” staged that alone works by Glen Tetley, Maurice Bejart, Jerome Robbins, Kenneth MacMilan, works showed his faith in the company’s ability to hold a proud position in the world of dance. He gave them a legacy of works that had previously belonged to much more famous companies.

Thank you to everyone who has shared their memories.

I was of course more than interested to hear that an ABT dancer was able to improve on Ashton.

See also: The Dance View Times interesting interview with Alexander Grant in 2000 where he talks to Jane Simpson.

http://www.danceview...iews/grant.html

See: Celia Franca talking about Alexander Grant and his rehearsing Fille



#25 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 09 October 2011 - 06:02 AM

Thank you leonid, for your thoughts on Grant. And for the wonderful clip of him rehearsing. Who are the dancers?

I loved the part of the clip in which he tells the boy: "You're looking up BEFORE. You should keep an eye on the foot." A small point, but what a difference it makes in terms of the small story Ashton is telling at this point.

That attention to detail makes me think of Jane's 2000 DanceViewTimes interview with Grant, which you were also posted:

DV: But it’s the tiny little incidents that make it...

Grant: Well that’s what I keep on saying: ‘Please, please, please do not lose the detail’; but they think it’s not important. The reason it was put there in the first place by the choreographer was to show the characterisation, and somehow they think it’s not important today, because they’re so concerned with the technique — which is very good, they have wonderful dancers — I mean to have the technique to do everything is what every dancer desires; but you don’t just concentrate on that if you’re wise, you have a little bit else, something else to offer besides just the technique. It’s like a fantastic concert pianist; I mean I’m sure there’s many many pianists with wonderful technique, but few who can translate that technique into saying something.

I suppose that this is a "demi-caractere" insight. But it is one that hits the heart of what classicism is about. Beautifully, clearly expressed detail allows the audience to feel the underlying essence of character and story-telling, even in "plotless" works. For example, Grant's story of the loss -- and recovery -- of Nerina's backbend during one of the lifts. You dont' have to be an expert on Fille to understand what a crucial difference THAT would make.


#26 Amy Reusch

Amy Reusch

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,756 posts

Posted 09 October 2011 - 08:25 PM

Who will control Fille now? The Ashton Trust?

#27 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,036 posts

Posted 10 October 2011 - 12:41 PM

What we know so far is answered by Ismene Brown in this Link from today:

http://balletalert.i...post__p__292875

#28 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 10 October 2011 - 12:52 PM

Many of our members will be especially interested in this:

The Ashton Foundation's activities will be backed by the financier and chairman of the National Association of Pension Funds, Lindsay Tomlinson. Early planned events include a reconstruction of Ashton's 1932 Foyer de danse, to be shown at the Opera House in an "Insight Evening" on 2 November, the filming of a BRB rehearsal of The Two Pigeons in Birmingham (March 2012), and the filming of the Royal Ballet working on La fille mal gardée (April 2012). A DVD of Ashton's Scènes de ballet, divertissements and Les Patineurs is to be released by Opus Arte next month.



#29 sandik

sandik

    Rubies Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,365 posts

Posted 10 October 2011 - 01:33 PM

What we know so far is answered by Ismene Brown in this Link from today:

http://balletalert.i...post__p__292875


IT sounds like some of the most central works in his repertory are currently owned by a wide variety of people. I hope that this does not turn out to be a problem.

#30 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,036 posts

Posted 10 October 2011 - 02:20 PM

The Balanchine rep was also distributed widely, but the agreement to manage them through the Foundation was agreed to quickly by most of the recipients. I hope that waiting this long doesn't impact the Ashton Foundation's ability to get everyone, or mostly everyone, on board.


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):